Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Imagined conversation pieced together from what was supposedly overheard at a corner coffee shop today:

Dilli Billi One: Slumgod (sic) Million-air dekhi? Lots of awards it is getting, I tell you, it is being nominalised for Oscar too. Rahman is thee God.

Dilli Billi Two: And Anil Kapoor is so so ignored, and now he is all over the world as famous star. Look at what ae generous speech he gave at that Soggy (SAG?) award function... giving credit to the little childrens... so down to the earth, nah?

One: Did you see the way that Farida Pinto girl was sticking to that Jamal ? I think she is wanting to have ae role in thee haystack with him.

Two: But he is so little. She is like his big sister, and our Indian culture would not allow him to make hay with her.

One: Talking of Indian culture, what is with this Ram sena goondas beating ladies at bars? Thank thee goodness we are coffeetotallers only.

Two: But did you see the clothes those girls were wearing? In Delli you will not get antry into ae pub with so so plain tee shirt and pant. What pub was this??

One: Maybe this was media plantation to make some hype. They are very nosey peoples who keep filming thee people beating people, burning people, smashing window, breaking door, wagairah wagairah and just keep filming and filming.

Two: What do you expect them to do... They cannot put their hands into the law!

One: I don't know, no one seems to be putting their hands on anything (except that Pinto!), only their noses are going everywhere.. Anyway, why are we not attacking Pakistan?

Two: Because we are waiting for ae big country like America to take our side, so we can beat them together-together.

One: Oh, I suppose we have to collect more of thee evidences to convince Mr. Obama.

Two:I know! I mean just look at the bad luck of our country! On Sunday only they have catched two Pakistani terrorists who was asking for directions to India Gate to attack the camels and hathi in the parade. One had a big guns sticking out of their shoulder-bag which he mistook into a dhaba to ask for guide map from man who also was ae police informer and who sent the policemans to chase behind them, but the poor terrorist could not ask for help from Pakistan because they had forgotten to bring their pre-paid mobile! Oh no, I only wish they were having mobile with them and then we could have traced the calls to Karachi and give some more evidences to the America country.

One: But I heard that one of thee man made dying confession that he was Pakistani? That is proof no? I mean like it is happening in movies when dying mother is telling thee son who he is to take the badla of her death from? No? Anyway, I am saying we should just drop thee bombs on them and seal thee borders. All this frandship train and peaceful bus is making trouble... i tell you... bas!

Two: Tell me, do you think they have the girls who go to bars there?

One: I think they are not drinking country. So, tell nah, do you think Slumgod (sic) will get thee Oscar? I am praying in temple tomorrow for thee worldful success of our stars from slum.

Two: I also am hoping to get ae Oscar final time! May be then we will get the evidences that we are great country and America can see we are being serious enough on the worldwide stage to attack Pakistan that is tormenting terror on our soils...


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Retro roadtrip

Long time, i know.

So, tell me, have you ever found yourself stuck in an elevator between floors labelled ‘their times’ and ‘our times’? Let me give you a hint. It happens when people begin sentences like “In our days….”, and you end by saying “But that is so retro!”, or whatever is the expression these days. As I inch towards the real grown-up-hood, I am horrified to find myself in unfamiliar terrain. A year ago, I had gone back to my school for our half century of existence. While visiting my old dorm, I discovered that it had become a holding house for the new kids. So, when I said hello to one of them sitting on the bed that used to be mine, she asked me what batch I was from. 1993, I replied. "Oh (she giggled) Ma'am, I wasn't even born then!" Uh, oh....

Suddenly, terrifyingly, after years of making fun of someone else's purana zamana I am smack dab in the middle of a triangle: two sets of yesteryears (shockingly, one of them is my own!) and the here and now. And for the first time I realise that “their” world couldn’t have been so bad. Because mine rocked!

The other day, while watching the promos of Chandni Chowk to China (shudder! shudder!!) where Deepika Padukone in her Chinese avatar as Miss Meow or something goes flying over the heads of a few dozen extras, I felt I could relate with some of my parents’ nostalgia for the good ol' days. In an age where most action movies are shot in the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon style, with action sequences involving invisible suspensions, I must confess that sometimes I miss the sound of the loud dhishoom dhishoom of Bollywood, which often came a few seconds before the punch or a wee bit after, and is now hopelessly lost in the glamour of gaudy gizmos and surreal special effects.

Well, thanks to dear old Doordarshan, my earliest memories are pretty much a jumble of bi-weekly Chitrahaar (kind of like half an hour of Channel [V] Zabardast Hits of today but only twice in a week and with no repeats); the original Mahabharata in which an arrow took an entire episode to reach its target; ad breaks that were actually more fun than the actual programme (really!), the melancholic DD tune instead of the dhinchak ....

This was what we called "popular entertainment" (though I wouldn't go so far as to count krishi darshan, which is when my educator-turned-son-of-the-soil grandpa hogged the TV!), till Atari video games came along and I lost my measly popularity due to extremely poor hand-eye coordination. Unable to make a snivelling chicken cross the road in one of the popular versions, I quickly becoming semi-famous as the ‘chicken killer’, baptised thus by mean neighbourhood car crashing champions. But then what seemed to me a most violent game in “those days” now seems almost like the Gandhian avatar of some of the more bloodthirsty digital games that are popular “these days”.

Here’s the thing. The familiar images have been switched and there’s change all around me, and I am terrified of losing the old impressions. Microwave cake-mixes are in, but I miss the messy, tedious and infinitely long process of baking one in the oven, along with my super baker sister (who has grown up to shun all culinary activities!) and tasting it all the way from the raw, eggy muddle till the gooey mid-bake version.

In fact, I can't fathom some recent phenomena. So, while reading about Barack Obama’s aversion to low-slung jeans, I wasn't not too sure whether to rejoice that I have something in common with the groovy US President, or feel sad for the poor dad who’s heading for a somewhere-in-the-future couture clash with his young daughters!

But I guess as far as fashion is concerned, “their” times continue to visit “ours”, what with wedge heels, tight churidaars and big shades flitting in and out of fashion. Pictures of my mother in bell-bottoms, and dark glasses larger than the flare in her pants, come to mind and then so does another thought. How, when I was growing up and arguing with the parents about dating and such like, I would try and imagine them on one. Yes, they did date in those days, but I guess it’s kind of difficult to imagine people who were once iffy about your dates going out on one of their own.

So, in my mind, it went something like this: it would begin with a Coca Cola (now better known as Coke) worth a few annas (which came in quaintly shaped baby bottles and not shiny little "my" cans), and zip around town on fuel worth… hold your breath… a single digit. This was followed by a movie in the “balcony”, or the “upper stall” if tickets were tight, and a quick lunch (dinner was perhaps off-limits), and probably rounded off with a hand-in-hand stroll in Lodi Gardens or any other not-in-the-neighbourhood green patch.

Now you may wonder why I would foist such a dull outing upon my parents. But that’s just it! All that surrounds us tints our reality, making it difficult to imagine another world, a world that can only exist on celluloid or in the fading images of a past we insist was just a teensy bit colourless than our own. So when young nieces and nephews ask me about growing up, they are often left stunned. What??!! No cable TV? No Internet? No emails? No malls? No PSP? No CCD or Barista? You’ve got to be kidding me! No mobiles either???!!!! And I say that some of this was a bonus really: no mobiles, plus landlines that seldom worked in the homes of a select few - not anyone I wanted to know - where we could be found by the hounds....So what exactly did you guys do those days?

Uhh... ummm.... we got along... well, kinda ;)

PS: How else do you think I have those great stories for the grandkids?!